Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Adult Me, Meet Child Me

When I was five years old and living in Korea, I was a bit of a problem child. Apparently, I was disobedient, annoying, and disruptive in school.

In those days in Korea, each class had a president and a vice president. The president was always a boy and the vice president was always a girl - the smartest boy and the smartest girl in the class.

In my kindergarten class, I was vice president. I said I should be president because I was smarter than the boy. My teacher said I couldn't, because only boys could be president. I was only five years old, but even then, I knew there was something rotten about this so I kicked up a fuss.

I'm not sure what happened in the end - whether they changed the rules and let me be class president (I doubt it), but I love this story about me because I'm proud that even at the age of five, I was confident enough to speak up when I thought something was unfair.

This brings me to some unsolicited advice I'd like to offer if you're a parent.

Keep a journal for each of your kids and write stories about them as they grow up. I've been doing this for Toby and Josie since they were born, and I think this is the best gift I could give my kids because it shows them how much I cherished the people they were and how much their everyday lives and antics meant to me. And it helps them to know themselves.

I wrote to Josie about a time when she was about one year old. We were in a shopping mall and there was a girl slightly older than her, crying. Josie toddled up to this little girl and put her arms around her. When Josie's an adult, she'll read this story and be proud of the child she was and the kind heart she had, even as a one-year-old.

I wrote to Toby about his habit of grabbing my face in his two hands and asking, "Mommy! You happy?" When he reads about that as an adult, he'll see what a caring child he was and how much his mother's happiness meant to him.

The point to all this is... as adults, we sometimes doubt ourselves, feel inadequate, unloved, or undeserving of love. At those times, a peek into our childhood to meet the person we once were and can still be, might be a good way to reintroduce ourselves to us and learn to appreciate ourselves a bit more.


Leighbee said...

Assuming of course that those memories of childhood are happy ones.....?!
I ADORE my parents but my childhood memories are not full of haooy and loving memories (though of course there are some) but of an "angry" father and a "fragile" mother.....I was always "too noisy", "in the way", "watching too much tv", "reading too late" la de da....... they are super people ..... perhaps I was that bad?!?!? Perhaps they weren't cut out to be parents?! I was the only child so noone to compare myself with .......

Anonymous said...

Dear Shin,
I so totally agree with you on this.
I lived in Singapore for 7 years and moved back to Sydney just 3mths ago.
I buy a calendar each year for my daughter for her room with big enough gaps that I can write her milestones and little antics. They have become so much more for me and a gift for her when she is older and especially a mum, so she can compare with her children one day. I write everything on them, each tooth that appeared, potty training, bike rides with mummy, her play dates, funny things she says, little shows we went to, her moods, everything. I found the calendar best for me because it was there hanging up with a pen attached so I could write it immediately and didn't forget which is a big problem for me. I even started printing out little photos to attach to the calendar bit like scrap-booking really, its so great to look back at and see all the special people that came into our lives and the fun things we have done.
She is five now and I will start her journal because there is so much more to tell her. I want her to know about me as well. My thoughts and passions and reasonings. I know this will be invaluable to her as I lost my mum when I was 17 and I often wonder what I was like as a child and I will never know.

I read your blog every morning to see how you are doing. Sending you loads of positive energy and hugs. ML

Shin said...


Thanks for reading my blog and for your good wishes. I feel a bit silly but... do I know you in person or just through this blog?

A calendar sounds like a good idea.

I also have the usual baby scrapbooks to record their first tooth, first steps, potty training, and the usual developmental milestones. But every child has these milestones.

I like keeping the journals and writing letters and stories to my kids because these are the stories that are unique to them. These stories could belong to no one else in the world but them, and they could come from no one else but their mother. It's our special bond that they can keep forever.

This is my definition of the perfect gift for anyone, especially when you're shopping for that pesky wife/husband or girlfriend/boyfriend who already has every material thing and is impossible to please:

A gift that could only come from you and that could only be given to that particular person and no one else.

Anonymous said...


What a beautiful person you are !!

What a fantastic idea - I actually feel like a bad parent for not having done this on my own - yeah we do the tooth, first step etc etc but not the little stories - and there are so many of them. Would you believe I still call a spoon a "moosh" because thats what my eldest daughter used to call it when she was learning to talk - they are amazing memories that I would love my children to experience.

You are a blessing young lady and I continue to genuinely wish you and your family much love and happiness.


ALI KATI said...

Such a gorgeous idea. My mother kept suitcases of my clothes as a child. When I found out and went through them, it did bring an odd sort of delight, even when I realised some of them were way too frilly to admit to having worn. Very rarely, she also has told me a story or two from when I was a child - it does have a lot of impact.

Shin said...

Ali Kati,

That's a good idea. I'm going to set aside some special baby outfits for Toby and Josie, with stories to go with them. That'll give them something to touch and feel, and they can imagine themselves in the little baby outfits and imagine me dressing them, holding them, snuggling them. What a nice thought...

Anonymous said...

Hi Shin,

I kept a weekly dairy for a year for my first born.
I also included a photo or two in support of what I wrote.

I showed the diary to my son this year (he is 21) when he entered university. He said he enjoyed reading it and learnt quite a bit about me. He asked me if he could keep it.

I regret not doing the same for my other two boys.


Anonymous said...

Hi Shin,

My eldest, Kateryna (5), often begs me for stories from when she was a baby. I think in some way she's looking for reassurance that I loved and cared for her as much as I do her little sisters. I have a journal for myself where I jot a few things about the kids too. But a journal for each of them is a great idea. Now I just need to get organized! Hope to see you at school some day soon. Natalia

Shin said...


Josie also used to ask me to tell her stories about her when she was a baby. I never really thought about why she did. I just assumed she liked hearing about herself.

She hasn't asked for baby stories for a while now - maybe because Toby is no longer a baby and she doesn't feel the need to compete with him in cuteness.

It never occurred to me that she might have been looking for reassurance that I loved and cared for her as much as I did her baby brother. That's something to mull over...